Startup

Early Bird Gets the Worm

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So today marks one week of starting work at 5am, and holy shit - I hope I can keep this going.

Like many of us trying to optimise how we work through everything from food, supplements, lifestyle and wacky experiments we often look at thought leaders for tips. And I am no different, I first started learning about nootropics from listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast and now take “Total Human” pills from Onnit everyday and I haven’t looked back.

But, you’re totally tripping if you think you can just pop some pills and expect to begin smashing life. its all about creating habits. This became super obvious for me when training for The Speed Project 4.0 (a 550km ultra relay from LA to Vegas). Without creating a habit of putting your running shoes on as soon as you got home from work to guilt-trick your ass out the door you simply will not get the Km’s in to ensure you are ready for the long roads of Death Valley.

So when I saw this video of Casey Neistat and Jocko talking the importance of waking up at 4am for productivity it made total sense for me. Even if at first I hated the idea of leaving a warm comfortable bed hours before the sun rises. Ugggh.

Anyway, I decided to commit to the early rise for 7 days to see what happens. And boy am I pumped with the result.

Here is what I learnt from this.

  • A routine needs to be planned.
    Just walking up before 5 doesn’t mean your going to smash out work. To make this time work you need to have a plan before you go to bed. I set up my work station before I go to bed and make a list of things I need to get done first thing in the morning. This was super lame things like “reply to that email” or “have a coffee” all the way through to “finish sales forecast for 2019-2020”. By having this list ready before bed I found that I slept better because I wasn’t thinking out the things I need to do, and then when I’m still half asleep I don’t procrastinate and blame the early rise on it.

  • Get Cold.
    This one sucks if you’re not used to it. But I love (and sometimes hate) a cold shower. So as soon as my alarm goes off at 4.55am I go straight to the shower for a 4-minute warm shower followed by a 1-minute cold shower to end on. Old mate Wim Hoff, is one of the global leaders in research and experimentation in this area alongside his breathing techniques to maximise oxygenation of your blood. So to kick-start the day this is what I do.

  • Don’t sit on the couch.
    It’s just too comfortable. Don’t do it. Trust me with this one.

  • Plan the whole day for maximum output.
    I realised pretty early on that I needed to schedule the whole day to really make the most of this 7 day experiment. So I cracked open illustrator and made this wallpaper for my iPhone to keep me on track. This way I can’t forget what I need to be doing or get distracted.

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This is what worked for me - so feel free to use it too or make your own. This worked so well. I end up having 7 hours of sleep, 14hrs for work, 2 hours to go run and 2 hours for food including the lunch meeting (I use this time to catch up with mates over a meal). So the simplicity of this worked really well for me.

A super interesting thing I found was that in the block between 5am and 9am. I get 4 hours of really good work done which then made my whole day free to have meetings, explore ideas with 100% intent as I didn’t need to rush off back to the screen to do some work. I work from anywhere so my day is pretty fun, the profile picture for this post is me working from Barossa valley (I was literally sending emails back and forth with Nike for a project in that photo - Ha!)

Then if from these conversations during the day I then had planned in another 2 hour block after dinner to either explore an idea creatively (most of my work is experience design or conceptual works for clients so when inspiration hits I need to take advantage of it) but often I was so up to date I used this block to make my list for the next day or tidy up anything that happened during the day like little emails or tweaks to past work, nothing too crazy. Or if I didn’t need to get anything done I just used this time to sit on the couch and draw while watching TV to ensure I don’t loose touch with the tools.

  • The Math.

    Now I need to confess, I love numbers so this really excited me. When I had the shops, the bar and the co-working space working an 18hr day wasn’t a rare occasion -But it nearly killed me.

    After a few solid years of this kind of work day become the norm so I never really thought there was another way to do it. But now I realise I was super busy, but I wasn’t super productive. In hindsight I also struggled to find a balance that worked to ensure I still had time to spend with those I love.

    So this new way of working is rad for me because the time in the morning I have no distractions and I am not stealing hours away from my girlfriend or friends or family. And at the same time I’m getting the hours in to achieve my goals.

    Here’s the Math.
    With this way of working I can get 14hrs of work in a day and still go run for 2 hours and spend time socialising and just hanging out.

    14hrs x 7dpw = 98hr work week.
    98h x 52 weeks + 5096 hrs per year
    5096 Div by 8 hr days = 637 work days per year
    637 - 240 (average workdays people work PY)
    = 397 extra days of work per year.

    THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY SEVEN. EXTRA.

I’ve done similar math to this before but it just wasn’t sustainable before, this routine feels completely different.

So next time someone gives me that bullshit “I just don’t have enough time” statement, they are going to get this math right to the face. We all have 24hrs in a day, it’s how you use it.

Disclaimer*
I’m not saying everyone should do this, but your ambition needs to match you actions. You can’t say you want to achieve huge goals without doing huge work and putting the hours in.

So I think I’m going to stick to this plan to see how it goes. But I am not going to stick to it religiously, if I have a blow out on the beers I’m totally sleeping in. But this plan is my new north star. Let me know if you have any tips or questions for this. I would love to hear what you’re experiencing or experimenting with.

Marketing Small

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Marketing is such a huge part of being successful in business. But marketing doesn't end with a Facebook post or that print campaign - the real effective marketer lives and breathes his or her product.

Here are some tips that I've been thinking about recently to help people starting out.

  • You are your best marketer. You don't need to hire a PR firm to tell people your story. You are the best person to share your story, so do it.

  • Passion is contagious, people can hear it in your voice and want to share the journey.

  • Choose a plan to market and stick to it. If you want everyone to know about the new shop and its concept, then only speak about that… It's hard, there will be thousands of things you want to share but choose the right place and time. At the start you want people to easily know what you are about and can join the story and grow with you. Remember even Facebook only started with one (rather distasteful) feature. Don't complicate the message.

  • Make it simple, market the message then repeat with the next message once the first has been achieved (or failed, it doesn't matter)

  • Be resourceful.

  • Make some noise. Throw a party, it doesn't need to cost the world but putting your customers and fans in a room shows that you care about them and in turn, they will care about you. It can be as simple as a few drinks on a Friday afternoon in the store, or a meet up at a local bar, it doesn't need to be crazy or expensive.

  • It's also a great way to thank your team, so have social occasions with your staff often, it builds trust and a family vibe.

  • BUT DON’T GET DRUNK.

  • Word of mouth is the original social media. keep people happy and it'll return in money. It's not hard to be polite, especially if you're in retail.

  • Customer service is still marketing, make sure you give customers the best possible experience and they will become marketers for you. It has worked for hundreds of years - and it is super simple

So, overall be nice, talk the talk, and build your tribe.

So you have an idea?

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So you think you've got the idea of a lifetime huh? Or maybe you are ready to take the plunge into the freelance world - "Fuck the man", right! I get it. Congrats - this is the first decision of millions you are going to have to make on the road to some kind of success…

Here’s the tricky thing, the facts are sometimes pretty difficult to swallow. Are you ready?

Your idea most probably sucks.

I mean this in the nicest possible way of course. But let's be honest. Most of the ideas we get are pretty damn half-baked. They normally, actually they are never thought out properly. But that's because of one very obvious reason, that an idea only forms and moulds into something good from taking action and doing something, yet remaining flexible and passionate enough to keep the ability to adapt along the way….

Now that's a PC way of saying you're going to fail. And you're going to fail a lot. Don't stress though, because without a few Band-Aids - a couple of grazed knees or even a few sleepless nights the chances of anything coming of your new venture is pretty damn low.

You know the saying right? “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it”.
OK so let's get this shit-show on the road huh!

You've made the decision. You're pumped up. You told ya Mum you're doing it, taking the plunge, you got all new stationary there's just one problem. You have no fucking idea what to do first!

Or, if you do know what to do first I can almost guarantee (unless you've been around this block before) that the first thing you think you should do is wrong. Lucky for you, I've fucked up enough to share how I would do it if I was to do it all over again.

Number one thing to do is to get things down on paper. Put your laptop down, delete that stupid app that promises the work of organisation - those things will be good later, but right now you need to be working with good old fashioned pen and paper.

The reason I'm so passionate about keeping things analogue isn't because of some strange hate of whizz-bang apps, it’s far more simple than that;
1) Pen and paper are fast.
2) Apps are on Phones or Laptops, Laptops have the internet - the internet has youtube - youtube steals hours from your life. Hours you need for your Business.

There are a few simple questions you want to ask your self about this idea/concept to either reassure you self that this life-changing plunge is worth it, or if this idea has some holes in it its a perfect time to put a finger over that hole.

Here are a quick few questions to ask yourself.

  • Who might my customer be?

  • What problem is my desired customer facing?

  • How does my customer currently solve this problem?

  • What’s my solution to this problem?

  • Why is this solution so damn special?

  • Who are my ideal first customers? the early adopters?

  • What gives me the advantage over my competitors?

  • How will I get to my customers?

  • How much does it cost me to solve this problem?

  • How much can I charge to solve this problem for my customer? 

  • How much profit is left?

Now, these little questions are the basic questions developed by these startup nerds over at Strategizer. They use it on a canvas looking thing that you can find with a simple google of 'Lean Canvas' - or you can draw your self a version that asks the same questions.

Does surfing make you better at business?

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I haven’t been able shake this idea for the last few days, and the more i think about it more sense it makes to me. Now, i realise that this might only resonate with those of you who surf, and for the rest of you - you’ll just have to take my word for it. But here’s the punch line;

Surfers make better business people.

Whoa - big statement, I know. Let me tell you why - Surfing is almost 100% about feeling.

Firstly, let me paint a picture of what a pretty normal surf looks like.

1 - Decide you feel like surfing.
2 - Check the conditions by reading a bunch of graphs that mean absolutely nothing to you for the first 5 years until you start to recognise patterns.
3 - Decide its going to be worth going, So you need to convince a friend to come too.
4 - The negotiations with that person start. Finally, you convince them. Yay!
5 - Prepare the equipment, the car, the coffee machine and get some rest.
6 - Wake up before everyone else, acting irrationally optimistic that today is going to be the day.
7 - Get to the beach to either find great wave (success) or average waves that you convince yourself and the mate (who is now hating you) its still going to be worth it.
8 - Put on a rubber suit ~ Normally that is wet and gross.
9 - Paddle out, dodging rocks, rips, waves and anything else that’s out there to ruin your day.
10 - Suss out the other surfers to find your place in the line up.
11 - Sit in the line up for 2+ hours constantly reading the conditions waiting for a wave.
12 - Spot a wave, commit 100% to making it yours.
13 - Ride the wave for 2-10 seconds… If you’re lucky.
14 - Totally fuck up the wave and go back to step 9. Or have the wave of your life and then return to step 9.

For me this follows exactly not only the daily struggles of working for yourself, but also reflects the past 10 years of business I have experienced. Let me elaborate.

In comparison, this is what starting a business looks like.

1 - Decide you feel like surfing.
Decide you want to open a business or work for yourself - because you love what you do, not for solely for money.

2 - Check the conditions by reading a bunch of graphs that mean absolutely nothing to you for the first 5 years until you start to recognise patterns.
Look at some kind of analytics of the industry you want to enter. Then everything your accountant sends you for the next 5 years looks like hieroglyphics. The same as a swell chart.

3 - Decide its going to be worth going, So you need to convince a friend to come too.
'“
Fuck, this could be epic man” but I don’t know if I want to do this by myself.

4 - The negotiations with that person start, finally convince them. Yay!
Wanna open X with me? This is normally the start of co-founder conversations. And its also your first real pitch.

5 - Prepare the equipment, the car, the coffee machine and get some rest.
Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance.

6 - Wake up before everyone else, acting irrationally optimistic that today is going to be the day.
Commitment. This is when you’re getting the wheels spinning, late nights - early mornings and nearly every conversation is about your new thing. All you do is eat, sleep, talk this business idea. Just like an obsessive surfer.

7 - Get to the beach to either find great wave (success) or average waves that you convince yourself and the mate (who is now hating you) its still going to be worth it.
Get your product to market. And either validate your assumptions - or find you need to start over.

8 - Put on a weird rubber suit ~ Normally that is wet and gross.
Put on a weird fabric suit. That normally feels just as foreign as a wetsuit. Pro-tip: Don’t wear a suit if you dont like suits. Simple.

9 - Paddle out, dodging rocks, rips, waves and anything else thats out there to ruin your day.
Stay in the market, dodging sketchy emails, slimy SEO people, false leads and any other snake in the grass. You’ll make heaps of mistakes here, I sure have. But you’ll get better at spotting it - just like surfing.

10 - Suss out the other surfers to find your place in the line up.
Suss out the competition again. and again. and again.

11 - Sit in the line up for 2+ hours constantly reading the conditions waiting for a wave.
”Holy shit, we’ve been open for 2 years now? where did that time go?!”

12 - Spot a wave, commit 100% to making it yours.
After sometime you get really good at reading the play and seeing when opportunities arise. this is when being a surfer has its advantages. Because once you commit - you’re committed.

13 - Ride the wave for 2-10 seconds… If you’re lucky.
You’re in the market. Now it’s all about becoming sustainable so you can keep this going. If it works and you can continue to evolve and adapt you might be able to stay around for the rest of you life. But if you’re shit at adapting then you’ll be around for 2 seconds.

14 - Totally fuck up the wave and go back to step 9. Or have the wave of your life and then return to step 9.
As per above. Get it right and keep the dream alive and repeat process from step 9. Or get it wrong and go back to step 9.


Aside from the literal steps (that aren’t always so literal) there is a certain skill that isn’t as obvious. And thats the ability to feel the direction that the market is heading without any proof or obvious evidence. Some call this intuition - but I call it catching a vibe.

Growing up surfing you become hyper attentive to the small things like ripples on the surface of the water to indicate a changing wind direction. You become extremely observant of the subtle movements on your feet on a board or a style of a surfer you admire. From here the ability to be slightly ahead of the curve is no longer a feat to strive for as it becomes the norm. And all of this equates to free expression and the ability to express yourself creatively without the fear of judgement as there is no measuring stick of “stoke” for surfing. Meaning Kelly Slater can go have the best surf of his life, and a beginner can go out and just stand up once and have the same amount of excitement regardless of their contrasting abilities.

This is because people surf because they love the feeling of gliding on a wave and expressing themselves, not because there is a clear path to becoming the next Kelly Slater. Unlike other sports that are built around a financial system that relies on fans and money, people surf because they love to surf. Just like business, you shouldn’t start something because you want to be the next Warren Buffett or Jeff Bezos, you should start something because you’re curious and you love solving the problem your customer is experiencing.

You should start a business because you love creating what ever you create.

So if you want your kids to be creative, and become advantageous of opportunities, Let them go surfing.